There sure is something different about President Obama. Usually, the State of the Union address is a laundry list of proposals spiced with sycophantic applause and dipped in an admixture of boredom and bravado. It is rarely a statement of basic philosophy.
Not for President Obama.
President Obama's State of the Union address was the greatest American rhetorical embrace of fascist trope since the days of Woodrow Wilson. I am not suggesting Obama is a Nazi; he isn't. I am not suggesting that he is a jackbooted thug; he isn't (even if we could be forgiven for mistaking Rahm Emanuel for one).
President Obama is, however, a man who embodies all the personal characteristics of a fascist leader, right down to the arrogant chin-up head tilt he utilizes when waiting for applause. He sees democracy as a filthy process that can be cured only by the centralized power of bureaucrats. He sees his presidency as a Hegelian synthesis marking the end of political conflict. He sees himself as embodiment of the collective will. No president should speak in these terms -- not in a representative republic. Obama does it habitually.
It would be pointless to discuss at length the dictatorial, demagogic nature of much of Obama's address -- the attacks on the banking system; the unprecedented personal assault on the Supreme Court justices; the dictatorial demands ("I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay"); the scornful looks and high-handed put-downs directed at his political opponents. It would be even more pointless to discuss the incomprehensible stupidity of Obama's policy proposals. (Export more of our goods? Why didn't anyone else think of that?)
It is worth examining, however, the deeper philosophy evident from Obama's address. From the outset, his speech was an ode to himself. He opened, bizarrely, by comparing this moment in history to past American crises: "when the Union was turned back at Bull Run …" He suggested that "America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people." This, of course, is unmitigated, self-serving rubbish -- 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War because we didn't move forward as one nation. But that is irrelevant to Obama -- in his mind, today's crisis is just like the Civil War. He is a modern-day Lincoln, and those who oppose him are benighted rebels. What's more, only his powerful leadership can lead us through.
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